Georgia war prompted Russian purchase of Israeli drones

Much was made last week of an agreement between the Russian government and Israel Aerospace Industries (IAI) to purchase three Israeli-made intelligence-gathering drones. The Israeli company will receive $50 million to supply the Russian military with three unmanned aerial vehicles (UAVs), namely a Bird-Eye 400 mini, an I-view MK 150 tactical, and a Searcher MK II medium-range UAV. The Russian Ministry of Defense announced the deal last Friday, saying it needed the new generation UAVs “to provide battlefield reconnaissance to the country’s armed forces”. What the Ministry didn’t say, however, is that it was prompted to purchase the Israeli-made drones after it saw its operations severely hampered by lack of aerial intelligence during the 2008 South Ossetia war last August. Russian newspaper Kommersant reports that the country’s aerial intelligence gathering capabilities are so minimal that the military requires an estimated “50-100 UAVs and 10 operation center [consoles]”. The purchase of the three drones from Israel is designed to cover immediate needs, while the Russians are working on a plan to start building their own UAVs, the paper reports. Moreover, Kommersant claims that the Russians wanted to purchase the state-of-the-art Heron UAV from IAI, but that the Israelis refused to sell it to them, following strong US pressures.

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Expert news and commentary on intelligence, espionage, spies and spying, by Dr. Joseph Fitsanakis and Ian Allen.

One Response to Georgia war prompted Russian purchase of Israeli drones

  1. Anonymous says:

    Israel’s like the fat girl that will go home with anybody after the bar closes.

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